After spending two weeks bird-watching in Guatemala with my parents for New Year’s, I had the great idea that they should accompany me to Moab for the annual four-wheeling extravaganza that is the Easter Jeep Safari. Accommodations in town are difficult to come by at the last minute, so I was grateful to secure a cabin at one of the local RV parks. What could go wrong, right?
To start with, I did not do a very good job of preparing my parents for where we were going. When I came to pick them up for the 750-mile drive from Reno to Moab, my mother had three ice chests full of food and another two totes of dry goods. “Um . . . you know that they have grocery stores in Moab, right, Mom?” We filled the bed of the family truck and threw the bicycles on top of the load before heading east. Next stop, Moab!
I consider myself a road warrior, and typically a bag of baby carrots and some beef jerky are enough to get me from Reno to the Rocky Mountains, only stopping for fuel and the occasional bathroom (always at the same time). I can make it from Reno to Moab in a long day, but with my folks the drive took two days to get there, with numerous stops for fuel, drinks, and bathroom breaks. I started to wonder if my father had some secret agenda to visit all of the truck stops in Nevada.
When the Griswolds—er, Wagners—finally arrived in Moab, we headed straight to the Moab Brewery for dinner. Fortunately, we already had friends holding a table for us, since the place was packed. My father ordered a vodka martini to take the edge off of two days of camp songs and playing the alphabet game, but the Brewery didn’t have any vermouth. Despite ending up with a rum martini when we were in Guatemala, he continues to order martinis when we are on vacation. What my father ended up with in Moab was a shot glass of vodka with an olive in it. He just laughed, gulped it down, and ordered another.
When we finally checked into our cabin, I was certain there was a mistake. The one-room wooden box looked nothing like the “cabin” we saw in the photos on the Internet. Once we unloaded all of the food and gear from the tow rig, there was hardly any room left for us! We stacked the ice chests and plastic totes six feet high on any available floor space. The place made Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace look like something from MTV’s “Cribs.”
Speaking of sleep, there isn’t much to muffle the sounds of snoring in a one-room cabin, even if it is full of ice chests and Action Packers. I highly recommend bringing ear plugs along when traveling with your parents. Fortunately, the weather was spectacular, and the days went much better than the nights. We tackled Kane Creek the first day in town, and I rode with friends and let my parents drive my Toyota pickup (aka the “Junior Mint”) so they didn’t have to feel like passengers all week. The next day we went to Arches National Park to celebrate National Parks Week.
Later in the week I had a gig shooting photos that Four Wheeler feature editor Robin Stover helped me get while my parents explored downtown Moab. The time apart was a nice break for all of us after the cramped confines of the cabin. I even found time to run Hell’s Revenge and Poison Spyder Mesa with my friends during the week while Mom and Dad relaxed in town.
On Friday we went to Pritchett Canyon with my friend Fred and his diesel-powered Wrangler; this would be the hardest trail we ran all week. The rationale had been that we didn’t want to risk breaking the Junior Mint early in the week, but running the hardest trail when our nerves were already frayed from too much “family time” was probably not a wise decision. We would take turns riding with Fred while the other two piloted the Junior Mint. “I felt like the family counselor,” Fred laughed afterwards. I was alternately yelling at my mother, “You are nowhere close to rolling! Just keep going!” and “Slow down, Dad! You’re going to roll!”, depending on who was driving my truck. Fred explained that when Mom or Dad rode with him, they were expressing the same exasperation with the other family drivers, so at least I wasn’t the only one pulling my hair out. In the end, we all (Junior Mint included) survived Rocker Knocker, the Can Opener, and everything else that Pritchett Canyon could dish out.
Before we knew it, the week was over and it was time to head home to our separate, multi-room houses. Fortunately, Mom came through with some books on tape that kept us awake without having to talk to each other too much on the long drive home. Maybe it was a good thing she packed all of those totes after all! I’m pretty sure that the parents had fun, and hopefully they’ll be coming back to Moab next year—but we might have to get two cabins.
About Harry Wagner
Harry Wagner grew up wheeling the high deserts of Nevada and the Southwest. He currently makes his home near Reno, and is always on the lookout for the next adventure.